Throwing Ourselves

Detail of the Christ Child in the Orans Icon

Let us open our arms and throw ourselves into Christ’s embrace. When Christ comes, we will have gained everything. Christ will alter everything within us. He will bring peace, joy, humility, love, prayer and the uplifting of our soul. The Grace of Christ will renew us. ~ Elder Porphyrios (Wounded By Love)

…Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ St. Matthew 18:3

…And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. ~ St. Matthew 28:20

Pray like a child, in simplicity of heart, concerning all your needs and sorrows, and entrust yourself to God’s Will, for the Lord arranges our salvation. ~ St. Nikon

May we, like trusting children, remember (more often), to run with the outstretched arms of our soul – and hurl ourselves into the warm, comforting Embrace of Christ’s Everlasting Arms!

He’s patiently and lovingly waiting.

For us.

Right now.

Perceiving Divine Simplicity

Boulevard Snowdrop Flowers Signal the Nascence of Spring

Love all creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand within it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. ~ Staretz Zosima; The Brothers Karamazov – by Fyodor Dostoevsky

…See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. ~ St. Matthew 6:28-29

All created things are marked with the seal of the Trinity... The contemplation of nature has two correlative aspects. First, it means appreciating the “thusness” or “thisness” of particular things, persons and moments. We are to see each stone, each leaf, each blade of grass, each frog, each human face, for what it truly is, in all the distinctness and intensity of its specific being. As the prophet Zechariah warns us, we are not to “despise the day of small things” (4:10). “True mysticism”, says Olivier Clément, “is to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary.” ~ Metropolitan  Kallistos Ware; The Orthodox Way

Even during a simple walk, it’s a mystery how easily the Great can be seen in the Small. Whether it be stoic flowers bursting through cement cracks, or a cheery family of four snowdrops, popping up like unexpected company – on a grassy boulevard.

God’s beautiful gift of nature is all around us.

All we have to do is to see what we’re looking at.

Happy Saint’s Day Zoe! God grant you many years!

Hope’s Patient Persistence

Behind the Altar, facing Royal Doors’ Curtain

We have within us deeply rooted weaknesses, passions, and defects. This can not all be cut out with one sharp motion, but patience, persistence, care and attention. The path leading to perfection is long. Pray to God so that he will strengthen you. Patiently accept your falls and, having stood up, immediately run to God, not remaining in that place where you have fallen. Don’t let anything deprive you of hope. ~ St Nektarios of Aegina

You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. ~ James 4:2-3

All of us sin constantly. We slip and fall… The Holy Fathers and the Saints always tell us, “It is important to get up immediately after a fall and to keep on walking toward God. Even if we fall a hundred times a day, it does not matter; we must get up and go on walking toward God without looking back.” What has happened has happened – it is in the past. Just keep going all the while asking for help from God. ~ Elder Thaddeus Vitovnica

We know God is with us, but sometimes there may be struggles to feel His Presence and Love, or even to pray. During times of spiritual dryness, it is the faithful perseverance in prayer which is the sweetest of all our prayers to God.

We slip.

We fall.

We rise.

We persevere.

We never give up.

We focus forward.

We don’t look back.

Our life is blessed… God’s gift…. We have a treasure in us – our souls…. ~ Elder Nikolay Guryanov

Serenity

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. ~ St. Matthew 7:7-8

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~ Philippians 4:4-8

We know God is with us. Yet, during our daily routines we sometimes forget, perhaps by being caught up in the moment and putting prayer on the back-burner.

Be that as it may, when least expected or deserved, we may catch whiffs of God’s Perfumed Peace – which clearly passes all understanding. This spiritual surprise can come as a warm, fragrant cocoon of inexplicable joy, or as a robe of consolation and quiet calmness.

We may remain tranquilly enveloped for a time, until distracted maybe by wandering thoughts, intrusive imagination, or other mundane, worldly cares – such as the klaxon of an oven-timer beeping that our cake is finally baked.

Regardless, this Magnificent Peace is never, ever, far away. And, when asking God’s help (even with the bread of tears), we can be sincerely thankful during our entreaties, for God knows our heart. He feels our sorrow. He hears our every sigh.

God’s silent, golden, blessings are always close at hand, especially when in simplicity of stillness we open the spiritual eyes of our hearts. And, as with the pure faith of a child – we open the door when our Heavenly Father knocks to let Him in.

Although our efforts may be small and sporadic, sometimes during the quiet of the day or night, our dear Lord gently bestows tantalizing glimpses, by reminding us of how we could always be.

So, as we sprint along the daily, peaceful paths of prayer, may God grant us according to our salvation! Let us yearn each day to become Shiny and New again!

May the rich Abundance of God’s great Mercy continue to direct our ways in the Hopeful Peace from Above – which truly passes all understanding.

Autumnal Prayer

Image by Joe from Pixabay

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. ~ Psalm 90:14

November 27/14

Happy Eve of the Nativity Fast!

Tomorrow we begin our spiritual pilgrimage into the Advent season… to contemplate the upcoming Great Feast of Christ’s Incarnation.

Just like Great Lent is before Easter/Pascha, the ancient Nativity Fast is a reflective, joyful time for spiritual preparation – nourished with prayer, love of one’s neighbour, and generous almsgiving.

Each fast is fresh, new, and a collective reminder to shift focus away from oneself, and onto the needs of others, instead.

Together we’ll begin the late autumnal journey with sweeping the dried leaves and debris away from body and soul.

We fast before we feast, and the feasting aspect is saved to start on the actual Nativity Feast Day itself, including the following bright “12 days of Christmastide”.  

May your Nativity Fast be peaceful and fruitful!

With love in Christ.

Neither Eye Nor Ear

Image by 12019 from Pixabay

But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him’. But God has, through the Spirit, let us share his secret. For nothing is hidden from the Spirit, not even the deep wisdom of God. For who could really understand a man’s inmost thoughts except the spirit of the man himself? How much less could anyone understand the thoughts of God except the very Spirit of God? And the marvellous thing is this, that we now receive not the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God himself, so that we can actually understand something of God’s generosity towards us. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

The Present

Let us bless the Lord day and night for His Gifts to us. ~ St. Gavrilia

When we open our Daily Gifts from the Lord, we might sometimes find a mysterious surprise!

And, while we may not quite know why we’ve received a particular present, we still keep it close… a mear heart’s breath away… knowing it will be useful.

What can we give Him for all the daily Blessings He’s lovingly bestowed on us?

At the dawn of each fresh and brand new day… what are the two greatest gifts we can give back to God?

Our gratitude.

Our self.

From This Day Forth…

Contemplative Sunrise on Kauai – July 31, 2023

For our good, for our happiness, let us make a vow that from this day forth, from this hour, from this minute, let us strive to love God above all else and seek to do His Holy Will. ~ St. Herman of Alaska

Greetings on the Feast Day celebrating the canonization of Saint Herman of Alaska.

Felicitations also, on today’s Feast of the Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon! He’s been a helpful blessing for family and friends.

You can read more about these two amazing saints’ lives (including some of today’s other saints) on the Orthodox Calendar, located at the very bottom of each post and page. Daily Scripture readings are listed there too.

Through the prayers and blessed intercessions of our most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints – may God give Help to the residents and tourists on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, struggling today with unprecedented wild fires and evacuations!

No Matter Where…

Moloa’a Bay Sunrise on Kauai – July 2023

God travels our road,
and no matter where we go…
our angel’s there too!

I’m out of practice with international travelling. It’s been a few years!

Thankfully, we received a trip blessing before departure on our recent and amazing family vacation – which began with a huge hiccup at a connecting airport… with hundreds waiting in line to go through customs, (many apparently) for a Taylor Swift concert.

I accepted the possible inevitability it was God’s Will we might miss our next flight. There was nothing to do but patiently go through the long process. In the near 2 hour line up, I found myself quietly humming Lord Have Mercy a prayer of the heart I’d taught the Youth Choir – who sang it (as recorded below) at concert, during Palm Sunday Liturgy this year.

Lord Have Mercy Hymn – Youth Choir 2023

This serene piece (possibly hummed several hundred times while waiting in line) calmed me, and it seemed I could almost hear the Youth Choir’s precious voices singing along, as if in accompaniment!

In a nutshell… once passed security, we made a desperate, sweaty 10 minute dash (dragging our carry-on), and actually boarded the plane shutting its doors! Whew! Six hours later we arrived safely in beautiful Kauai, Hawaii.

Mahalo ke Akua (thanks be to God)!

Be that as it may, it was still surprising and disconcerting to remember (I’d conveniently forgotten) that no matter where we go, we always manage to pack along our imperfect inner selves. Ack! There’s no escaping this, even on holiday in paradise!

Familiar foibles sneakily surfaced, and (unless constantly playing in the ocean) the high humidity magnified an existing (hard to believe I’m sure, ha-ha!) grump factor.

Our travel icons on the lanai – Kauai 2023

With my comfort zone challenged, I happily rediscovered that conscious repetition of Thank you God inspires true appreciation of His Creation.

Sincere gratitude helped me explore and happily embrace more unexpected adventures as they came during our vacation.

All in all, it was a joy to share new and meaningful experiences with loved ones. And, with apologies to my long-suffering Guardian Angel… I learned to embrace higher humidity!

It’s good to go – and good to come home… and very good to gird up one’s loins to resume the Me Battle again!

Mahalo for visiting Blisswood! I hope this finds you well.

With much Aloha in Christ! ❤️

Our Crowded Hearts

Image by Bianca from Pixabay

The heart is but a small vessel; and yet dragons and lions are there, and there likewise are poisonous creatures and all treasures of wickedness; rough, uneven paths are there, and gaping chasms. There also is God, there also are the angels, there – life and the Kingdom, there-light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasures of grace: all things are there. ~ St. Macarius the Great

We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere Incognito. ~ C.S. Lewis

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